Carbon pollution policies help break deadlocks Media Release

Jul 10, 2011 - 1:22pm

'Vital step towards lower pollution & clean energy'

The independent Climate Institute welcomes the Government, Greens and Independents’ carbon pollution agreement as a vital and long overdue step forward in Australia’s effort to cut pollution, clean up the economy, reduce energy waste and join the global effort to tackle climate change. 

“These pollution policies are a vital step towards lower pollution and clean energy in Australia and will help break political, investment and environmental deadlocks on climate action,” said John Connor, CEO of the Climate Institute.

“These policies will finally break a political deadlock which has seen our politicians squabbling and dithering for over a decade.  If passed by Parliament the scheme will start half a decade after John Howard first announced his backing for a price and limit on pollution, an emissions trading scheme.”

“This policy package will also help break an investment deadlock which has stalled investment, not only in clean energy, but in Australia’s overall power generation.  Energy experts have shown that further delay will increase electricity prices and cost the economy billions, with investors forced to second guess the politics and invest in plants cheaper to build, but more expensive to operate.

Driving pollution reductions

“A legislated policy package will be a welcome boost for global carbon pricing momentum. Australia also now has a more credible policy platform to achieve internationally committed, bipartisan backed, 2020 pollution reduction targets of 5 to 25 per cent reductions below 2000 levels.        

“As well as setting a price, this package also provides for ever tightening limits on pollution to be set after three years with a clear switch to an emissions trading scheme.”

Unlocking clean energy

“A pollution price is necessary to drive industrial scale investments in cleaner energy and cleaner industries but, as experts at the International Energy Agency conclude, additional policies for renewable energy are also needed to help achieve long range targets more cost effectively.”

“To that end, the extra $10 billion dollars made available for innovative loan guarantees through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is welcome.  This support has the potential to provide much greater confidence in investing in Australia’s abundant but still emerging clean energy resources such as solar, geothermal and wave. However, the details of the investment mandate, and how it addresses clean energy market failures, for this Corporation will be critical.

“Properly combined with the consolidation of renewable energy programs and the multi-billion dollar investments to be driven by the Renewable Energy Target legislation, there is a bright and exciting future for Australia’s clean energy.   

Energy efficiency and carbon farming

“The Climate Institute particularly welcomes the package of measures and commitments on energy efficiency and National Electricity Market reform.  

“Merging piecemeal or absent state energy savings schemes into a National Energy Savings Initiative will help Australia catch up to the energy efficiency improvement levels of competitor countries.  Crucially it will also help households and businesses manage energy bills which are rising for reasons other than carbon pricing.” 

“The Climate Institute also welcomes the linkage of the Carbon Farming Initiative to the carbon price mechanism and the $200 million support for landholders so crucial to developing this important new regional industry that Professor Ross Garnaut says could rival the wool industry.

“The increased ambition and mechanisms in the commitment to achieve 80 per cent pollution reductions, not just 60 per cent reductions, by 2050 is welcome but will need to be strengthened further. If Australia is serious about helping achieve the UN objective it has signed up to of keeping global warming to less than two degrees above pre-industrial levels, 80 per cent by 2050 with comparable and equitable global action is insufficient.”

Improved governance

“There is much needed independent institutions and mechanisms enabling expert reviews and advice about the realities of the science as well as the realities of global action.  The value of external review has already been demonstrated by the Productivity Commission and the Garnaut Review, which both recently debunked the idea that Australia is at risk of leading the world in climate action.” 

“The Climate Authority’s ‘rolling budget’ and other advice, and the public response required from the Government, is a crucial step forward in independent governance and scrutiny.”

Maintaining incentives for households and industry

“While we share concerns that vulnerable Australians on allowances like NewStart maintain their comparative disadvantage, we welcome the fact that all low income and vulnerable households will be substantially better off.”

“The householder support is important as big polluting industries, the primary focus of these policies, make the switch to cleaner production and energy use. This means households can only gain from their efforts to reduce energy use.   

“While there are some process improvements, The Climate Institute is disappointed by the retention of over-generous assistance and the onus of proof for trade exposed big polluters.  We’ll be doing what we can to remove unwarranted assistance as soon as possible.”

“This pollution policy package is a welcome and vital step forward and The Climate Institute calls on all politicians to support its passage through Parliament.”

“Breaking the deadlocks that have hampered action on carbon pollution and climate change is crucial.  If this package is passed later this year then we can move through the fog of fear and misinformation on climate action and focus on the far greater risks and opportunities,” concluded Mr Connor.

For further information:
Giulia Baggio | Communications Director, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299

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